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Friday, September 28, 2012

Emkay plans Cyberjaya affordable housing project

PROPERTY developer Emkay Group expects to launch an affordable housing project in Cyberjaya by the second quarter of next year in an effort to enhance the middle-income group's accessibility to their own house.

"This is an ongoing effort by us in providing affordable housing to the people, in line with the government's desire to see more of the middle income group owning homes," said chairman Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar.

He said although the project is still in the planning stage, the company expects it to include the development of about 3,000 units of medium cost houses with a selling price of below RM200,000 a unit.

Speaking to reporters after the launch of the Star Central @Cyberjaya project here yesterday, he said the affordable housing project will be part of the group's plan to transform Cyberjaya as Malaysia Silicon Valley in 2020.

Also present was Emkay chief executive Ahmad Khalif Mustapha Kamal.

The Star Central @Cyberjaya project, developed by its subsidiary, Joyful Star Sdn Bhd is a mixed-development project comprising 859,118 sq ft of office space, 814 units of shops and 1,900 residential units with a gross development value (GDV) RM1.8 million.

The construction is scheduled to start next month and is expected to be completed in five years. It will be developed in four phases, Mustapha Kamal said.

"So far, the project recorded a sales value of RM122 million, involving various types of development," he said.

Among the development in the Star Central @ Cyberjaya project are an eight-storey semi-detached office tower units with a GDV of RM420 million, two 25-storey residential studio and office (SOHO) towers (GDV of RM319.4 million), 10-storey shop office (GDV of RM80.8 million), six-storey hypermarket (GDV of RM277.7 million), 48-storey serviced apartments (GDV of RM453.9 million) and a 41-storey hotel (GDV of RM332.2 million).

The company will utilise the Industrialised Building System in order to reduce construction costs, Mustapha Kamal said, without revealing more details about the project.

"We do not want to be too dependent on foreign labour services to build affordable homes in Cyberjaya," he said.

Commenting on the proposed tax incentives for developers who use the IBS and green technology, he said if the government announces it in the Budget 2013 today, the company plans to build more affordable homes in Cyberjaya.

"It is possible (to build more affordable housing) based on Emkay track record so far," he said.

So far, Emkay has already built 22,920 units of affordable housing since 1990 with a GDV of RM1.37 billion. From the total, 11,118 units are located in Damansara Damai, Petaling Jaya and 11,794 units in Taman Bunga Raya, Bukit Beruntung.

By Business Times

Pasdec sets RM18m property sales aim

KUANTAN: Pasdec Holdings Bhd is targeting RM18 million in property sales during its three-day sales carnival, which starts today.

The sales carnival at the East Coast Mall is held in conjunction with the group's month-long promotional campaign.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Abdul Manan said the carnival is a yearly event to promote the group's housing and commercial properties.

"The main focus is to strengthen the brand and increase awareness on our special offers."

The promotional period runs until October 27.

"The theme of this year's carnival is 'Go Nature', which is centred on the concept of healthy and safe living as well as taking care of the environment."

Citing an example, Khairuddin said the Pasdec project in Bandar Putra, Tanjung Lumpur, here, boasts of exclusive features that combine the elements of safety, tranquillity and green environment.

Pasdec sales and marketing manager Saniyah Mohamed said during the carnival, its bank partners will offer attractive interest rates for home loans.

She said among the new projects to be launched today are two residential areas, namely Pasdec Pesona at Paya Tiga Bukit Setongkol and Vista Verde at Batu 6, Jalan Gambang.

Pasdec Pesona, strategically located between Bukit Setongkol and Indera Mahkota, comprises 158 units of double-storey terrace and double-storey semi-detached houses.

She said a special discount of up to RM9,000 will be offered during the promotional period.

On Vista Verde, Saniyah said the free-hold units are located near Sultan Ahmad Shah Islamic College in Pahang while the designs are suitable for the modern families and "yuppies".

She said Pasdec will work with the Kuantan Municipal Council, the Department of Environment Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society to raise awareness among schoolchildren on nature.

State Tourism, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif is scheduled to launch the carnival.

Various activities will be held, including a blood donation drive, free health checks and a colouring contest for children.

By Business Times

Rehda ready to pitch in

Developers are very much supportive of the government plans to build more affordable housing and are eager to participate in the programme.

Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) deputy president Datuk FD Iskandar said there is a consumer demand for quality and affordable housing.

"Developers are very much in support of building more affordable housing as we can see the demand is there.

"PR1MA (the 1Malaysia Housing Programme established by the government) cannot do it alone and we are willing to cooperate with them," he told Business Times in a recent interview.

Rehda, he said, fully supports the good intention of the federal government to build more affordable homes.

Iskandar said affordable houses are not a new concept. When the Selangor State Economic Development Corporation was established in the 1970s, its goal was to build affordable houses.

"Sadly today, PKNS is selling houses that are priced more than RM1 million.

"Where is their social responsibility? They get cheap land while private developers pay market rate. On top of that, PKNS gets other benefits. Yet they are building expensive houses," he added.

Iskandar, who is also Glomac Bhd group managing director, said developers are willing to work with PR1MA in building these affordable homes.

"PR1MA can be a facilitator of projects to build affordable homes by private developers as it has the list of first-time home buyers," he added.

The federal and state governments could also identify pockets of land in their respective areas to be tasked to private developers to build affordable homes.

"The authorities can even stipulate that this developments must have as high as 50 per cent of affordable units," he said.

In this respect, Selangor has a crucial role to play as it still has plenty of land to be developed.

The state must do its part in solving the housing woes of the rakyat, especially the middle-income.

"The high-income earner has no problems buying houses. So too the lower-income earners who are entitled for low-cost houses.
"It is the middle-income group which is feeling the pinch," he said.

However, Iskandar said buyers must also change their mindset in choosing the location for their houses.

"You cannot expect to buy an affordable unit in Bangsar (Kuala Lumpur) at RM300,000. An affordable unit there might be RM1 million, while those in Shah Alam RM400,000 and Rawang RM300,000," he said.

Private developers are already building affordable houses but it may be a bit far from Kuala Lumpur where the land cost is cheaper.

That is where a better public transportation system will help make these places more accessible to buyers.

"In this respect, I salute the federal government for biting the bullet to build the multi-billion ringgit Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Mass Rail Transit (MRT).

"These projects will make more outlying areas accessible to home buyers whose travel time from home to office will be very much reduced.

"After saying this, feeder services should be enhanced so that the public can easily access the LRT or MRT stations," he added.
On rising prices of houses, Iskandar said it does not mean that developers are making bigger margins now.

In fact, he said, when he first entered the business 23 years ago the margin was 25 per cent. Now he is happy if he gets 15 per cent.

Among the main reasons for the reduced margins are the cost of land, building materials and labour.

Recently, the Selangor state government had imposed a 30 per cent development charge on all improvements that it has allowed on any development land in the state.

The Caj Pemajuan 2010 indicates that all approved planning permission and approved extra floor area or space would attract a development charge and local authorities in the state are allowed to charge a 30 per cent fee and a 20 per cent of the difference in value due the permission being granted.

These additional cost would certainly contribute to the rising house prices, he said.

Iskandar said the Selangor state government must also help to alleviate the housing problems, especially of the middle- income earners.

By 2020, it is projected that the population of the Greater Kuala Lumpur area will rise from 4.5 million people to 10 million.

Assuming that the average household has four persons, it would mean that there is a need to build 150,000 new houses a year as compared to 200,000 new and old homes sold nationwide last year.

By Business Times

EPF eyes multi-asset properties abroad

PETALING JAYA: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is believed to be considering acquiring “multiasset” property portfolios abroad which would mark a change from merely buying stand-alone commercial properties.

These multi-asset portfolios included buildings owned by a company seeking to raise cash by taking on an asset light approach.

The company would then tender out its buildings a nd these were the opportunities that the EPF was looking at primarily in the United Kin gd om, an expert told StarBiz.

These multi-asset properties provided an attractive yield and also held property development possibilities, he said.

EPF's new strategy might involve buying into portfolios with 10 to 12 buildings located in light industrial p arks that would offer annual yields of between 6% and 7%, another source said.

When asked about this, an EPF spokesman said: “It is the EPF's policy not to comment on matters which are still at the planning stage.”

Since its active entry into the London mark et in 2010, Malaysia's largest retirement fund, has to date used up the £1bil for property purchases in Britain.

It has three properties in Australia, one being a direct acquisition while the other two were through investment in funds.

Its seven properties in Britain are currently providing an annual yield of between 5% and 6%.

In a trip to London recently to complete the purchase of the Battersea Power Station in which EPF has a 20% stake, CEO Tan Sri Azlan Zainol said the fund would be setting aside £400mil to £500mil for further purchases in Britain in the next two years.

EPF will be expanding the £1bil it set aside in 2010 for British real estate purchases.

Azlan said EPF's property i nvestment in Britain was separate from its investment in the Battersea Power Station project.

Earlier this month, EPF reported a second quarter investment income of RM7.66bil, representing a 13.42% or RM905.75mil increase compared to the corresponding period in 2011.

Azlan said the healthy earnings recorded in the second quarter were backed by strong performance from its investment in equities despite uncertainties in the current global econ omy.

Equities remained the largest contributor in EPF second quarter results, posting an investment income of RM3.84bil, or a doubledigit growth of 17.40% compared to RM3.27bil recorded in Q2 2011.

Loans and bonds generated RM2.06b il investment income forthe quarter, up RM272.32mil from RM1.79bil in the same quarter in 2011.

By The Star

Weida plans luxury condos

It’s diversifying into property with two projects in Klang Valley

KUCHING: Weida (M) Bhd will embark on two high-rise residential condominium projects in Mont Kiara and Subang with combined gross development value (GDV) of more than RM600mil.

Group managing director Datuk Lee Choon Chin said the two upmarket projects were expected to have a total of some 660 units.

“The projects are expected to simultaneously get off the ground in second half-2013, and will take three years to complete,” he told StarBiz after Weida AGM here yesterday.

Lee said the two projects would be the first to be undertaken by Weida as it diversified into property development to broaden group revenue and earnings base.

He said the Mont Kiara project, which would be located near to the Garden International School and future mass rail transit (MRT) system, was to cater for both local and foreign buyers.

The Subang condominium project will be sited near a Japanese international school.

Lee said Weida, a leading provider of modern environmental engineering solutions, would incorporate green features, like energy and resource conservation, in both projects. “The design of the condominium units will be more friendly to environment living.”

The environmental engineering solutions provided by Weida group cover water and wastewater infrastructure, products and services; trenchless mapping, investigation and rehabilitation of buried utility assets; design-and-build, operation and maintenance of water and wastewater treatment plants. Others are renewable energy and environmental conservation as well as rural water, sanitation and renewable energy facilities.

Lee said the group was currently constructing a biogas plant and other wastes treatment facilities costing some RM93mil for an integrated centralised pig farm in Lubok Antu, Sarawak. The plant, which is expected to be ready next year, is one of the largest applications of biogas technology in Malaysia's livestock farming.

It has the capacity to generate up to four megawatts of electricity using the biogas produced. The electricity could be used internally or uploaded to the state's power grid.

On oil palm development in Tatau, Bintulu Division carried out by two Weida subsidiaries, Lee said nearly the entire 6,200ha had been planted.

“We have invested more than RM100mil in the development of the oil palm estates. About 70% of the palm trees have matured, the oldest being more than four years old,” added Lee.

He said with increased production of fresh fruit bunches in the next few years, the oil palm segment would increase its contribution to group revenue.

Weida's core business is in manufacture of polyethylene engineering products. The group owns and operates five plants in Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, and a sixth plant in the Philippines.

Lee said the manufacturing and works segment contributed about 45% each to group revenue with the balance by the services division. Weida has been a leading turnkey builder of telecommunication towers in Sabah and Sarawak.

For the financial year ended March 31, Weida posted pre-tax profit of RM30.1mil on revenue of RM309.7mil and earnings per share of 19.9 sen.

By The Star

PNB 'excited' over interest in Menara Warisan Merdeka

KUALA LUMPUR: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) is encouraged by companies' interest to locate their offices at the proposed 100-storey Menara Warisan Merdeka.

"It's true that there has been positive response from the companies. Most of them have expressed their interest to open up offices within the building. It's very exciting to see the high interest shown," PNB president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said after announcing Amanah Saham 1Malaysia's income distribution yesterday.

Hamad Kama Piah was asked to update on the development of the proposed over 600m Menara Warisan Merdeka, touted to be the highest building in the country.

Last week, Business Times reported that the proposed Menara Warisan Merdeka had received pre-booking enquiries for over 60 per cent of its lettable space.

About 30 per cent of the space is being reserved for PNB and several government-link companies under its stable.

Hamad Kama Piah indicated that PNB group will occupy about 60 per cent of the building.

"Most of these companies are under PNB's group," he said, when asked to identify the companies that have shown interests to move into the building.

On the construction date of Menara Warisan Merdeka, Hamad Kama Piah said it had yet to be ascertained but "the preparation is almost there".

"Last month, I said that we have received the development order from City Hall, attached with several conditions.

"We are trying to fulfill these conditions as best as we can and as hopeful. We are also trying to make sure the launch will be in order," he said.

Scheduled to be officially launched by year-end, Menara Warisan Merdeka will cost between RM2.5 billion and RM3 billion.

It will have gross floor space of 3 million sq ft and a net floor space of 2.2 million.

This will be followed by two subsequent phases comprising a shopping complex and condominiums.

The whole development, to be undertaken over a 10-year period, will cost RM5 billion.

To be located within the Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara heritage area, the concept of the 100-storey building, its retail portion and the condominiums was mooted in early 2004.

It took into account the need for enhancement of value and effective utilisation of the 7.6ha land adjacent to the two stadiums.

Once completed, Menara Warisan Merdeka will be over 600m tall compared with Petronas Twin Towers at 453m; Burj Khalifa at 829m; and Taipei 101 at 509m.

By Business Times

PNB to occupy 60% of Menara Warisan

KUALA LUMPUR: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the developer of Menara Warisan Merdeka, will occupy more than 60% of the 100-storey tower.

Many companies under the group had shown keen interest to set up their offices in the tower block, PNB president and group chief executive Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said after announcing the income distribution for Amanah Saham 1Malaysia yesterday.

By Bernama

Tornado arriving in Shah Alam

Nearly ready: Work on the WaterWorld @i-City is 70% to 80% complete.

Malaysians can look forward to a zero-gravity experience on The Tornado Ride at i-City’s fourth leisure component, WaterWorld @i-City soon.

i-City’s developer, I-Berhad, unveiled the park’s latest attraction recently.

The Tornado Ride is 70% to 80% completed and the 4.05ha (10-acre) theme park is scheduled to be opened to the public this November.

I-Berhad director Monica Ong said WaterWorld @i-City was the fourth leisure component in i-City after the completion of the popular digital lightscape, outdoor park rides as well as the Snowalk.

“The theme park will also provide visitors, especially families, a wholesome experience,” she said.

“The Tornado will be the flagship ride of the theme park and it will offer visitors an exhilarating ‘weightless’ experience,” she said.

The first Tornado was introduced in Canada in 2003.

To-date, there are more than 100 Tornado rides in the world and WaterWorld will be the first in the Asean region to feature such a ride.

The Tornado is a 28-second thrill ride where riders in groups of four will be sliding down on a tube raft through a steep 160-foot water tunnel. The tunnel is connected to a seven-storey high funnel inclined at 45 degrees.

Riders will experience four to six oscillations in the funnel with a 60-foot diameter opening that reduces gradually to a 10-foot diameter at the bottom before splashing onto the 1,350 sq ft landing pool.

It is at the peak of each oscillation that riders can feel the zero-gravity effect.

The funnel and tunnel are made of fibre glass and the ride can take an average of 480 riders per hour.

Around 16,000 litres of water are pumped into the funnel to reduce friction between the raft and the funnel.

Visitors can also check out the gigantic wave pool with a stage and LCD screen for concerts and special events.

There is also a river adventure through the Rockery Cave that is illuminated by LED lights.

Children can indulge in the Rainbow slide and enjoy a splashdown at the Children Adventure pool.

Ong said the company had invested RM25mil in the whole project and expected to break even in two to three years.

i-City currently attracts 90,000 visitors weekly and expected a 30% increase in the number of visitors once the project is completed.

By The Star

New centre for homeless

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has identified a 2.02ha institutional land to build a new centre for the homeless.

Mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib said they were keen to assist the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and Social Welfare Department to resolve the homeless issue in the city.

“The ministry and Social Welfare Department do not have a place to build the centre so it is only right we offer them the land.

“The ministry is very responsive to the idea and we are waiting to hold further discussions.

“The temporary relocation centre for Malaysians will be built by the ministry.

“We notice there are a lot of homeless people with jobs but they don’t want to rent rooms or houses because they want to save money. Hence, they take shelter under bridges.

“On the other hand, there are 13 non-governmental organisations (NGO) carrying out soup kitchen programmes,

“With this centre, we can organise the programmes in one place,” he said.

He added that DBKL would also be working with the Immigration Department to round up foreign vagrants.

Through joint operations with the Social Welfare Department and National Anti-Drug Agency, 312 vagrants, beggars and loiterers were picked up as of August.

The areas covered were Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Masjid Jamek, Jalan Silang, Central Market, Jalan Loke Yew, Jalan Pasar, Sultan Muhammad roundabout as well as areas surrounding Menara Maybank, Mydin Kota Raya, Bank Negara and the National Mosque.

StarMetro has been highlighting the homeless in the city, which is mainly due to the lack of affordable housing, welfare and services.

The city’s bridges, benches, sidewalks, abandoned and dilapidated buildings as well as platforms have become homes to an increasing number of homeless.

According to Social Welfare Department statistics, the number of homeless registered with the department was at 1,387.

At present, Anjung Singgah — a government-run centre — serves as a transit home for the homeless since April. The shelter accommodates up to 76 people, allowing them to stay up to two weeks.

There have been mixed feelings and reviews over the transit home and feed-the-poor programmes by NGOs. Some questioned the effectiveness of the transit home while some are not keen to have soup kitchens as it encourages homeless to continue living on the streets.

By The Star